Measuring Customer Happiness at Buffer: October 2012

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positive feedback“Happy customers who get their issue resolved tell 4 to 6 people about their experience.” ~ White House Office

Welcome to our very first Happiness Report.

I’m really excited to share for the first time our experiences of delivering happiness to our awesome customers here at Buffer. Each month we will talk about things we have learned, look at our analytics and introduce new ideas for increasing happiness we will be testing over the next month.

Our philosophy for bringing happiness to our users

The culture we’re building at Buffer is one where customer support stands shoulder-to-shoulder with product development, with each aspect of the business having equal focus. It’s something Joel has referred to as the happiness advantage.

While Tom and the product team work hard to drive growth, it falls to everyone on the team to chip in and answer emails and tweets. With shared responsibility for customer happiness, we each do all we can to delight.

The road to supporting awesome Buffer customers so far

At the start of the year we worked from oldest email first, trying not to keep anyone waiting longer than possible. Looking back it’s easy to see this led to everyone waiting longer than necessary, and without a WOW in sight.

After a few months we switched on Help Scout (an awesome tool that helps us deliver our happiness efforts) reports and could begin to measure the number of emails we received each day, as well as how many we had replied to in less than one hour, 1-3 hours, 3-6 hours and so on. Armed with this information, we could now monitor our performance and set goals.

Looking back to January and 100,000 customers, here are some of the key insights:

  • 21% of emails sent to Buffer received a reply within the first hour.
  • More than 50% waited more than 6 hours to hear back from us.
  • 23% of Buffer users had to wait more than a day! Ouch.

conversations january

response time january

Leo and I experimented with different approaches and different schedules through the summer. But as customer numbers grew we knew we needed to grow the team, and the lovely Carolyn joined us in September (more from Carolyn in our next report!). So far it’s making a world of difference, as we now have a lot more of the 24 hour day covered.

With a few extra tools to help with internal team communication and super fast responses – often within minutes – we try to do everything to now delight customers a lot more and hopefully deliver a little bit of WOW to their day.

How happy were Buffer customers in October?

Skipping forward to October and 400,000 customers, here are some of the most important stats:

Out of 3,597 email conversations, this was our response time:

  • 56% of all emails got a reply within one hour,
  • a further 16% within 1-3 hours
  • 5% waited more than one day.
  • overall: 81% of people who emailed Buffer during October received a reply within 6 hours.

conversations october

response time october

Over on Twitter we responded to around 4,500 mentions, doing our best to give super fast support, and gained an additional 8,000 new followers. Right now we’re looking for a tool which will expand our measurement of this channel but open APIs should allow us to explore deeper metrics over the coming months.

Interestingly Facebook is much less of a driver for inbound support, with only a small number of posts to our timeline each day. And with App.net only just getting started, we manage only a handful of daily mentions there too.

One of our biggest challenges moving forward, in addition to continuing to push for improvement across all inbound channels, is to whip our feedback forum into shape. It’s definitely high on our list to moderate and respond to the many feature requests building up there too.

How can we improve for November?

While I’m proud of the progress we’ve made so far, there’s still much more we can do. We’re working towards round-the-clock support and have a bunch of ideas in the works to keep boosting our ability to deliver Buffer happiness, and a little bit more WOW.

New ideas we’re going to be testing in November include:

    1. Real-time measurement of customer happiness by adding clickable smileys to our email signatures, capturing instant feedback.hively signature
    2. Follow those who mention us on Twitter, as a thank you for their engagement.
    3. Include a screenshot or screencast in our replies wherever possible. It will be interesting to watch for any effect on response and handle time.

Over to you

To finish up, here are just a few of the awesome messages we’ve received ourselves this month. Tweets and emails like these make everyone on the team jump out of bed each day to make Buffer even better. As a hat tip to our amazing Buffer community, you rock!

Twitter_Roman Rackwitz

bryan tevreden

Twitter_Nicola Osborne

By being open and honest here, we hope others will find it useful and will watch and learn along with us. If you have awesome ideas for how we could improve further, or any questions about our work so far, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

  • http://twitter.com/fauxpanels Faux Panels.com

    I had a few questions for Buffer & each time got helpful, courteous replies in less than an hour. Carolyn, Leo & a third person whose name I don’t remember were terrific. I also just love the whole idea of focusing on happiness. That’s a win/win for everyone

    • http://alyssaaldersley.com/ Alyssa Aldersley

      Thanks for hopping over to comment Beth, really awesome to see you here.

      Thanks also for your kind words, it really means a lot to us and definitely inspires us to find new ways to keep improving!

      Let us know if we can ever help to answer any questions at all, we love hearing from you :) – Alyssa.

  • http://myOnePage.com/Oo Oo Nwoye

    Hey Alyssa great post.

    I am sure there is a market that would support integrating all official communication via one interface.

    I was also wondering if you could make a bar chart comparing January and now. It would be interesting to see how you have improves within time segments side by side.

    As for your emails, how many of them are repeat questions? If many, maybe you could start working on creating a knowledge base.

    Cheers!

    • http://alyssaaldersley.com/ Alyssa Aldersley

      Hey Oo.

      Thanks for coming over to comment. Thanks also for the kind words and really awesome questions!

      A comparison chart is a great suggestion and something we can perhaps include in our December report, as a round up of the year gone by. I’ll be sure to make a note to add it in!

      We definitely receive a lot of similar questions and have a knowledge base we share across the team, making sure we stamp our own personality on replies.

      If we receive anything trickier, where we need to dig deeper into the code for a solution, the developers are accessible to us any time. Though these emails can take a little longer to respond to!

      Hope that helps! Enjoy your weekend :) – Alyssa.

      • http://myOnePage.com/Oo Oo Nwoye

        One more thing..

        After your post, I looked around and found out ZenDesk helps you integrate email Twitter and FB into one interface and supports creating a knowledge base. However, setting it up looks a bit too complex. It might be worth giving it a look though.
        Have a great weekend

        PS: I have no relationship with them and have not really used it personally.

        You replied my previous comment thrice. ;)

    • http://myOnePage.com/Oo Oo Nwoye

      One more thing..

      After your post, I looked around and found out ZenDesk helps you integrate email Twitter and FB into one interface and supports creating a knowledge base. However, setting it up looks a bit too complex. It might be worth giving it a look though.
      Have a great weekend

      PS: I have no relationship with them and have not really used it personally. Oo Nwoye

  • http://twitter.com/CavemanKLAUS Klaus Bravenboer

    Love

  • benfwirtz

    I’ll break one of my own rules and post a German article for Leo to check out – it’s about how some companies respond to their customers within minutes, but with emails which say basically nothing! So even even if people have to wait slightly longer, I think you’ll be fine as long as the response is satisfying ;)

    Here the article: http://www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/service/wie-unternehmen-mit-inhaltsleeren-formschreiben-verwirrung-stiften-a-863115.html

  • Nick

    I’ve been involved in soooo many customer satisfaction and NPS surveys while creating http://www.SuperSimpleSurvey.com and adored your post! There are tons of things that companies don’t realize around the importance of the customer and I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with your explanation above :)